Fenway Park Turns 100
The 100 most fascinating characters, moments, and tales in our beloved ballpark’s history.
63-72. Fenway’s Most Memorable Characters
Heroes, villians, frenzied fans … they’re all a part of this Sox fanatic’s hall of fame.
Michael “Nuf Ced” McGreevy, with Sox 1903–1918
The leader of the Royal Rooters, a Boston fan club from the early days, McGreevy was also the proprietor of America’s first sports bar, the Third Base Saloon (it was where you stopped before heading home).
Babe Ruth, with Sox 1914–1919
The Babe was known more for pitching during his time with the Sox…and drinking and all-hours carousing. Perhaps the greatest ballplayer — and playboy — to ever don a Boston uniform, he was, of course, sold to New York after the 1919 season. His specter hung over the Fens for 86 years.
Tom Yawkey, with Sox 1933–1976
Though long deified, Yawkey is often reviled today. He kept his-and-hers private boxes for home games so he could drink and swear with the boys while the ladies (including his wife, Jean) sat elsewhere. The Red Sox, meanwhile, were the last team in the league to integrate, which is why he is now commonly labeled a racist.
Ted Williams, with Sox 1939–1960
It may be hard to believe, but the Splendid Splinter’s final game at Fenway was sparsely attended — and when he bashed that home run in his last at-bat, he famously refused to tip his hat to the crowd. (“Gods do not answer letters,” John Updike explained.)
Elizabeth “Lib” Dooley, with Sox 1944–2000
“The greatest Red Sox fan there’ll ever be,” according to none other than Ted Williams. Dooley, who passed away in 2000, attended more than 4,000 consecutive Red Sox home games over a six-decade period, walking from her Kenmore Square apartment.
Sherm Feller, with Sox 1967–1993
How do you define memorable? How about this: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Fenway Park.” Feller became the voice that welcomed fans to the park in 1967, and even now, 18 years after his death, a recording of the PA announcer’s words greets fans at the beginning of every home game.
Bill “Spaceman” Lee, with Sox 1969–1978
Spaceman feuded with then–Sox manager Don Zimmer and voiced his opinions on everything from court-ordered busing to Maoist China. His pot use was legendary, but so was his pitching: He came up big in the ’75 World Series and had a 3.64 ERA during his time with the team.
Luis Tiant, with Sox 1971–1978
Before Pedro Martinez turned Fenway into an every-fifth-day fiesta, there was El Tiante. Remarkably, even as the busing crisis raged outside the ballpark, the most popular guy in town was a dark-skinned Cuban pitcher who liked to smoke victory cigars in the shower.
Pedro Martinez, with Sox 1998–2004
Electrifying crowds with his performance in the 1999 All-Star Game — not to mention countless other unforgettable moments (“Diez punchados por Pedro!”) — he may have been the most captivating showman the ballpark has ever seen.
Manny Ramirez, with Sox 2001–2008
For eight years, Manny being Manny was equally exhilarating and exasperating. He launched home runs…and demanded trades. He gave hugs (and allegedly urinated) in the outfield. But the 2004 and 2007 World Series championships simply wouldn’t have happened without him. — Jason Schwartz
Illustrations by Roy Knipe